10 Garage Flooring Types and Ideas
A gray concrete garage floor may be fine for most of us, but those who prefer something different have plenty of durable and attractive alternatives.
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- Cost: $0 over and above the cost of pouring the floor.
To me, a bare concrete floor can be attractive all by itself, especially when it’s new. If you’re just using the garage for storage, laundry or keeping an extra freezer or refrigerator, it may be all you need.
But there’s one problem with bare concrete: It will suck up any oils spilled on it, and the stains can be difficult to remove. So a bare floor isn’t a good idea if you keep your car or gas-powered lawn equipment in the garage.
You should also avoid bare concrete if your area has a high water table. That increases the chances of water seeping from below and leaving white efflorescence stains.
A bare concrete floor has no additional cost, though, so the price is right.
- Cost: $0.20 to $0.60 per square foot (psf) for materials; $2 to $3 psf for labor.
If you like the idea of bare concrete and you want protection from oil spills and efflorescence, consider applying a concrete sealer. A product like Armor Wet Look Concrete Sealer hardens in the pores, preventing oil from soaking in and water from seeping through.
I find concrete sealers are super easy to apply. Just clean the concrete, let it dry, then apply the sealer with a mop. It won’t change the color of the concrete, but will darken it a bit and add some gloss. You’ll need to reapply it every year or so to maintain stain protection.
Stained or Dyed Concrete
- Cost: $2 to $14 psf materials and labor.
If you’re not me and don’t appreciate “concrete gray” as a hue, you might want to consider a dye or a stain. The main difference between them is that dyes soak into the pores, while stains actually react with the concrete mixture to provide a more permanent color change.
Because of the way a stain works, your color choices will be limited to earthy tones. So if your preferences lean to more vibrant colors, a dye is a better choice. Either way, you’ll also need to seal the concrete to preserve the color.
Some stains come pre-mixed with a sealer. If you don’t choose one of these, you’ll need to apply a seal coat separately.
- Cost: $2.50 to $5 psf materials and labor.
All the garage floor options mentioned so far leave the floor looking like the concrete it is. To make concrete look like something else, you’ll need a surface covering or a film coating. Enamel paint is the most basic film coating you can apply.
Cleaning the concrete, patching cracks and holes and applying a primer — all DIY-able tasks — are necessary preliminaries to finishing a concrete floor with floor enamel. It’s a reasonably durable finish, but isn’t recommended if the floor receives heavy impacts or excessive moisture, because it can chip and peel.
It’s easy to paint the floor yourself with a brush and roller. And there’s plenty of room for the creatively minded to use different colors to make interesting patterns.
- Cost: $3 to $13 psf materials and labor.
Epoxy paint is one step up from floor enamel. It reacts chemically with a catalyst to provide a much harder surface. An epoxy garage floor is almost indestructible, which is why you’ll most often find it in industrial settings.
Besides being durable, epoxy floor paint looks great in the garage, and the surface is naturally slip-resistant.
I find it a little trickier to work with than floor enamel, because it begins to set as soon as you add the catalyst. Moreover, to achieve the best appearance, you must be meticulous about floor repairs before you apply it. These are two good reasons to hire a pro to epoxy your garage floor if you’re not confident in your DIY skills.
- Cost: $1.50 to $4 psf for materials; $2 psf for labor.
If your garage floor isn’t in tip-top shape, the best strategy might be simply to cover it. One of the easiest ways to do that is laying a roll-out vinyl floor covering. It requires little prep work other than filling large holes and cracks that threaten to spread.
No adhesive is required; just roll it onto the floor and trim the edges with a knife. It provides a completely waterproof and slip-proof surface. Though it should last as long as the floor itself, it’s easy to replace if it’s messed up with oil stains and chemical spills.
- Cost: $2.29 to $7.50 psf for materials.
Another way to cover your garage floor, defects and all, with as little effort as possible is installing interlocking tiles.
Typically made of rubber or vinyl, these tiles come with finger joints or metal brackets that let you fit them together like puzzle pieces to make a floating floor. As an ex-flooring guy, I love floating floors because installation is DIY-able and the floor is easy to replace when it wears out.
Interlocking tiles come in various colors and surface textures. They’re a great solution for a floor that isn’t in the best shape. Like rolled vinyl, the tiles sit on the surface and don’t require adhesive to stay there.
- Cost: $1 to $5 psf for materials and labor.
Peel-and-stick tiles for garage floors are a more permanent covering than roll-out flooring and interlocking tiles. Also known as vinyl composite tiles (VCT), they’re available in more colors and let you mix and match to make interesting patterns. They’re also durable and should last the life of any suitable floor.
To qualify, the floor must be perfectly flat, clean and dry, or the adhesive won’t stick. Choose another covering if your garage floor has spalling, ridges or depressions, or you notice signs of moisture like efflorescence or sweating.
- Cost: $1 to $30 psf for materials. $9 to $50 psf for installation.
Porcelain tiles are great for bathroom floors, but garage floors? They actually work great there, too. Porcelain is a durable material that can stand up to lots of abuse, provided you lay the tiles on a perfectly flat and dry surface.
Garage floor tiles are generally large, from one foot to two feet square, and come in a large selection of colors and styles. You lay them in mortar the way you would lay any type of porcelain tile. For extra durability, consider using epoxy grout, a more durable alternative to the standard cementitious variety.
Luxury Vinyl Tiles
- Cost: $3 to $13 psf for materials and installation.
Luxury vinyl tiles and planks are generally considered an interior floor covering. But if you ask me, they feature all the qualities you need for a garage floor. They’re waterproof, durable and walkable, good news for people making late-night trips to the spare refrigerator in the garage.
Luxury vinyl tiles are generally square, while luxury vinyl planks are rectangular. That’s the main difference between them. Similarities? They’re almost completely made of vinyl and click together to form a floating floor. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and provide an easy way to hide a concrete floor with a few cracks.
You can install them yourself with nothing but a measuring tape, a straightedge and a knife.